I sometimes do one-on-one calls. With permission, this is an extract of a conversation I had with R. We chatted for about 25 minutes.
me: In early sobriety, it’s like you’re a table with three legs instead of four legs. And when you’re a table with three legs, it doesn’t take much to push you over.
R: I hadn’t heard that before.
me: If you’re a table with three legs, it doesn’t take much pressure in the wrong place to make it fall over. It also (maybe) doesn’t take much to stabilize it. You could put a stack of books under one corner and that would stabilize your table. (You could use books or whatever, something to prop you up, supports – things to support your table. Meetings. Penpals. Podcasts. Blogs.)
But if you try to put too much pressure on your three-legged table by going to a bar to meet your friends on week one, and you want to ‘test’ yourself and ‘tempt’ yourself, that’s like putting pressure from the top on the top of the table instead of support from the bottom.
R: Realizing that I’m hearing wolfie and not me might make it easier to just persevere and realize that someone else in the world is going through this right now and it’s not just me. And it’ll pass.
me: I think in AA they call it surrender. Which, to me, means: “I’ve done it my way, my way doesn’t work, somebody else is successful at this, I’m just going to give up my shit for a little while and see what happens if I do it somebody else’s way. Because I’ve done it my way. I know what happens when I do it my way. And I can’t get the result that I want if I keep doing it my way, because my way hasn’t worked.” …
R: I’m going to stick with it, Belle. I’m sorry I keep having so many day 1s. Do people go on like this for awhile, or what? Am I the worst?
me: Once you start to accumulate the right supports (and enough of them), then you support that table. I don’t want to say it’s ‘magic’ but it’s pretty ‘magical’. Because then you’ll be like “oh shit, all this support? All I had to do was pull it all in, and use it.” You can do that.
R: I reckon I can. I think I’ve got to force myself and then realize that it’s – because there’s that part of me – the toddler in the supermarket that you talk about – and actually it’s like I’ve got to ignore that part and get on with it, even if I think it’s not what I want. Because I know it actually is what I want.
me: And wolfie will say anything, including: “you’re broken and can’t be fixed.” So if you hear that, you know it’s not you. If you hear “just drink today and start again tomorrow,” that’s not you. There are pretty standard, typical things that people tell me and that I’ve heard myself. Including things like “other people signed up for Team 100 and were successful the first time so I might as well give up” or ”other people have much lower bottoms than I have so means I can drink for a lot longer before I really need to quit.” All of that … is not you. That’s all a rationalization and justification to continue drinking.
R: I’m going to do it.
[she’s on day 19 today, after a *few* day 1s…].